We should all be working from home for good
- With the rise of the Delta variant, businesses should go remote.
- All from a distance is better for workplace collaboration, the environment and business bottom lines.
- Companies that go remote must be intentional when it comes to collaboration and technology.
- Jeff Chow is SVP Product at InVision.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
It’s time to get back to the office for good – the home office.
With CDC’s recommendation that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas of “substantial” and “high” transmission of COVID-19, employees across industries are wondering what the new future looks like work. As the possibility of another shelter-in-place order looms, companies are deciding whether the move to a hybrid situation – simultaneously in person and remotely – is worth it.
It’s not. Simply put, the concept of âforever remoteâ makes sense to many businesses and industries. For many, the American “back to work” isn’t just a light switch, but many organizations would be better off turning off the lights in the traditional office. The move to remote everything will expand a company’s talent pool and increase employee happiness and retention, while limiting a lease and reducing its carbon footprint.
There are advantages to becoming a fully remote organization. A good example is that the talent pool is now becoming national, even international. Organizations are no longer limited to recruiting employees of a given department in their offices. Asynchronous working allows employees to work across multiple time zones to complete projects and deliverables on time.
InVision, where I work, has been completely remote since its inception. We have the luxury of hiring people living in the United States and in 25 countries.
Plus, without the need for a large physical office, businesses can save hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even more, by renting office space or building a large campus.
It is also proven that eliminating an office so that all employees can work remotely is better for the environment. Eliminating a daily commute, whether driving a vehicle or taking public transport, helps reduce emissions. This was initially noticed in the spring and summer of 2020, when a drop in transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a 6.4% decrease in global carbon emissions, which equates to 2.3 billion tons. The United States recorded the largest drop in carbon emissions at 12%, followed by the European Union as a whole at 11%.
In a June 2021 McKinsey survey of more than 1,600 employed people, researchers found that about one in three workers in an office said returning to work in person negatively impacted their mental health. Respondents also said “COVID-19 security and flexible working arrangements could help alleviate stress” associated with returning to the office. Not everyone who works for the same company gets along. In an entirely remote environment, it’s much easier for those who disagree to just avoid each other. HR won’t have to spend as much time mediating between (or ending) the Hatfields and McCoys offices.
So how exactly can you quickly pivot back to the remote and hold onto it? The key is intentionality. Teach managers to make a point of celebrating wins and good work on group calls. Build an encouraging collaboration in key performance indicators (KPIs) of managers. Take advantage of face-to-face opportunities by hosting face-to-face meetings, all the hands of the business as a time to grow the culture, not a time to just do more work.
Offer the task forces dinner (use some of the money you saved on your lease!) And let them get to know each other as people. To be intentional, invest in new ways of working that are often better ways of working: reducing necessary meetings and adapting more feedback sessions to asynchronous collaboration. Meetings that remain on the calendars should be booked in order to be very engaging and energizing times for teams to reflect and do generative sessions.
Second, the technology. At the moment we all know the tastes of
, and Microsoft Teams, but there are other products that can actively improve collaboration (full disclosure: I work for InVision, which makes one of these digital collaboration tools, namely Freehand).
Take a look at your IT team (and talk to your employees) to see what they need on a daily basis. What tools does your accounting team need? Are they different from what the marketing team needs (spoiler alert: they do). And don’t force everyone to use the same tools. If your accounting team loves Microsoft Excel, that’s great for them. I can guarantee, however, that your product design team will not use it.
Finally, invest in your employees’ ability to transition (again).
GreenGen, which provides green energy solutions for businesses and infrastructure projects, had one of the most pioneering ideas. âWe asked our employees to do a two-day work-from-home resilience test. This was to make sure everyone’s home Wi-Fi was adequate so that all of our documents and documents were easily accessible online and we could resolve any potential issues. problems preventively, âsaid Bradford H. Dockser, CEO and co-founder of GreenGen. âMaking sure our team members have screens, mice and keyboards at home made the transition easier. With that kind of intentional stress test, GreenGen didn’t skip a beat.
Above all, the main key to getting back to the home office for good lies in communication. Technology and innovative products have helped bring colleagues together virtually as people work from anywhere and anytime. Initial shelter-in-place orders taught many companies across industries that remote working can be just as effective, if not more, than the traditional office model. Businesses should make the call to go all remote at all times. Their employees, their investors and the environment will all thank you.